Supposedly – because really, how do they figure this stuff out? – our collective attention spans have shrunk to a discouragingly low 8.25 seconds.
Also supposedly, goldfish have an attention span of nine seconds.
How have we sunk below goldfish in our ability to pay attention? Many people – and those who figure these things out agree – blame the digital age.
But don’t get too excited – we’ve always been distracted. How many times have you walked into a room and forgotten why you’re there? Or blanked on your birthday or phone number when someone asked? Or had someone say to you, “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your body!”?
Another reason not to get too excited: it’s not technically true that we can’t tune into anything for more than 8.25 seconds. Most of us can watch TV shows/movies, shop, engage in conversations with other people, etc.
The people who figure these things out did more research and discovered that attention spans are contextual. Squirrels, for example, are easily distracted – until you throw food into the equation. Suddenly, their attention spans are long enough to remember where they buried their nuts and acorns during the winter months. And even goldfish can learn that a colored Lego equals food, which most likely requires more than 9 seconds.
HOWEVER, the 8.25-second attention span does seem to hold true online, and the distractions we face are more numerous than ever.
- The average office worker checks their email inbox 30 times … per hour.
- The average smartphone user spends 5 hours per day on their phones.
- The average internet surfer stays on a web page for less than a minute and reads only 20% of the words.
- 79% of people engage in “dual-screening” (that is, watching TV while also using a portable device).
You get the idea.
What does this mean for you as a marketer?
It means that your job is to find something that really interests your prospective customers.
Here are some tips for doing so.
Write a provocative headline: Shorter is better, but focus on impact. If it’s good enough, your headline will buy you extra seconds of audience engagement.
Beware of “click bait”: Your audience may fall for click bait once, but if your provocative headline doesn’t lead to provocative content, they’ll ignore you the next time around.
Use images: People can process images in just a few seconds, so choose images that are relevant to your content and will grab visitors’ attention – it's also a chance to win an extra few seconds!
Use video: The average amount of time an internet user watches a video is 2.7 minutes – far longer than 8 seconds. The caveat is that the video content needs to grab their attention within the 8-second window.
Focus on user experience and ease of use: Visitors won’t hang around if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away – make it easy!
Be different: Don’t copy your competitors. Even if they’re getting leads using a certain tactic, it doesn’t mean you will too. (In fact, you probably won't because the competition got the lead first; if they didn't and the potential customer finds you instead, they're going to dislike your tactic as much as they did when they skipped over your competitor – then they'll skip you too.)
Engage emotions: Stories touch emotions like no other style of messaging can, and emotions drive sales.
Would you like some help making your 8.25 seconds count more? Drop us an email!